Garden News January 2022

garden allies

Get to know your garden allies

by Margie Rose

The quiet season of winter when the garden sleeps is the perfect time to look back at what worked and what did not in our gardens. Did new plants added in the past year thrive or wither? If they didn’t thrive, what was the reason? The excess heat, too much sun, not enough or too much water? Poor drainage? 

garden allies

Choosing the best place for a plant is very important but sometimes it is a mystery when we lose one. One summer my geraniums were infested with caterpillars because I over fertilized them! Too much of a good thing is not so good. A stressed plant is an invitation to damage by insects and disease. Observation leads to improvement. Remember that a garden is never “done,” 

Winter is a good time to settle down with a warm cup to sip and an interesting book. This one from Timber Press is a real find! Frederique Lavoipierre has written, “Garden Allies: the birds, insects and other animals that keep your garden beautiful and thriving.” She tells us about the life cycles of these creatures and how they assist us in our gardening efforts. We cannot do it all; we need our friends to pollinate, help control destructive insects, and perform many other jobs too numerous to count. When things go well, they come to take up residence without our assistance. [Ed. Note: you can follow Lavoipierre on Facebook here.]

Garden allies! So many creatures are part of our gardens if we are careful not to use chemicals that kill them and don’t destroy their habitat. A balanced ecology supports a healthy place for our plants and reduces the workload for the gardener, increasing our pleasure in gardening. It also is a safe and healthy place for us.

John Muir said, “When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.” I think of nature as a fabric that unravels if a living thing is removed, like a sweater with a pulled thread. Balance in our gardens keeps everything healthy, reducing disease and insect damage. 

My own garden, to my delight, is full of life: birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, toads and tree frogs, even a garter snake who helps keep the bugs and slugs at bay. They are my companions that give me assistance and I am grateful for their presence.

A healthy, thriving garden is a pleasure to have for us, our families and pets, and our allies that give us invaluable help. The joy we receive from our gardens helps to keep us healthy and thriving!

Questions? Email me at or leave a message at 503-645-2994.

Tree seedling sale at Skyline Grange 

Pre-order by noon, Tuesday, January 25; pickup Saturday, February 12 10 am-2 pm at Skyline Grange

By pre-order ONLY: this small sale includes mostly tree seedlings and a few shrubs and wildflowers that we have trouble obtaining for our large April 1-2 Tree & Native Plant Sale. Most are bareroot.

Pre-order forms must be received by noon on January 25, 2022. Note: because numbers are limited, the Grange will send in an order on both January 11 and January 25. We recommend that you submit your order by January 11 to best ensure you will receive all that you wish. Orders will be taken on a first come, first serve bases.

Species available: 

Coniferous Tree Seedlings: Douglas Fir (single or in bags of 250), Grand Fir, Noble Fir, Western Hemlock, Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine, & Western Redcedar.

Deciduous Tree Seedlings: Red Alder, White Alder, Oregon Ash, Pacific Madrone (potted), Bigleaf Maple, & Oregon White Oak.

Shrubs: Tall Oregon Grape, Salal

Wildflowers: a few, yet to be determined. Most will still be dormant in February & maybe not emerged from ground.

To request a pre-order form: Email Forms will be available on January 3. Pick up at Skyline Grange Hall on Saturday, February 12 from 10 am-2 pm.

Master Gardener monthly gardening tips

Find timely gardening tips in this video series produced by Weston Miller and Monica Maggio of OSU in partnership with The Oregonian.  Scroll down through to see month by month videos. The January & February Garden Checklist is currently featured.

disease resistant lima beans

Selecting Seeds

Winter finds many gardeners dreaming of spring and perusing seed catalogs. Learning the descriptive terms used in catalogs and on seed packages can guide you to make purchases right for your gardening situation and goals.

OSU Extension Horticulturist Nicole Sanchez explains terms she shared in a Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up webinar. Familiarize yourself with these terms and watch a recording of Nicole’s Understanding Seed Characteristics webinar.